For Rent


Again, the glass cage is vacant. Only the elderly
recall it was once a shoe store displaying Hush Puppies.

In the recession, Snow Whites took shifts in a coffin,
each inserting a bite of fresh apple between her lips.

When Superman tried to freeze himself,
the weight of the water cracked the window.

The fund-raising tap dancer sprained his knee.
The starving girl was forcibly removed, driven
to the hospital. The magician’s tip hat was stolen.

Now, when potential tenants view the venue,
they smell the history of failed performances

and ask the agent to show them park benches.
The agent enthuses about You Tube opportunity
and how glass is due for a comeback,

but the artists decline, distressed by ghost fingers
tapping their shoulders, chilly whispers in their ears
pleading see me, see me, see me. . .

— Sara Backer

 

Sara Backer has speculative poetry published in Silver Blade, Bracken, Crannóg (Ireland), Into the Void (Ireland), Shooter (UK), Modern Poetry Quarterly Review, Mithila Review, Illumen, Eye to the Telescope, Abyss & Apex, and forthcoming in Gargoyle. Her chapbook, Bicycle Lotus, won the 2015 Turtle Island Poetry Award. A second chapbook, Scavenger Hunt, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press in November 2017. Follow her work on Twitter @BackerSara or sarabacker.com/publications.

Editor’s Notes: SUPERMAN MANNEQUIN: Taken at Darling Harbour Imax Theatre by Steven Cateris (Flickr files, CC BY-SA 2.0) overlaid on cracked ice.

The Sidekick

I knew just where to stand
to let the light pool in my eyes
to tame the curl at my brow
to hint at secrets on my lips

so you would choose me

I lifted weights
so my tights fit just right

I practiced my cadence
to follow the shadow
of your voice

I taught myself to speak of wind
as a conveyance
and buildings as stepping stones

I mapped cities by way of rooftops
and steeples
Met birds as brothers

for all the hollow good deeds
you do
I spoke of ripped hearts
how love mends

Now I remind myself to tell you
every day
that the ruin of the mind is
really a gothic keep
moon-curtained
gargoyle-clutched
and we can live there
safe in our technology
under ivy-covered arches
in rain-scented rooms

I make my suggestions
seem as if they are your ideas

you agree to them all

we need only a blanket or two
some computers

with your brisk commanding looks
and my mind
I can have my bromance
You can have your revenge

— Wendy Rathbone

 

Wendy Rathbone has poetry published in Asimov’s SF, Dreams and Nightmares, Apex, Strange Horizons, Eye to the Telescope, Star*Line and many more publications. Her newest poetry book, Dead Starships, is available on Amazon.

She has been nominated for the 2016 Rhysling Poetry Award, and recently won third place in the long poem category of the SFPA Poetry Contest. Her poetry collection, Turn Left at November, was nominated for the Elgin Award in 2016. She also writes novels. You can find her on Facebook and here: http://wendyrathbone.blogspot.com/

Wendy lives in Yucca Valley, CA.

Editor’s Notes: “A bromance is a close, emotionally intense, non-sexual bond between two men. It is an exceptionally tight affectional, homosocial male bonding relationship exceeding that of usual friendship, and is distinguished by a particularly high level of emotional intimacy.” (Wikipedia)

The artwork is the City of Gotham by Dieter_G (public domain)

Warrior

                        Coffee provides more than just a morning
                        jolt; that steaming cup of java is also the
                        number one source of antioxidants in the
                        U.S. diet.
                                    —EurekAlert (28 Aug 2005)

In my sleek brown craft,
I maneuver these subterranean
rivers of incarnadine liquid,
slipping over and around

the massive saucers of red
flesh that float and lumber, full,
like huge round canteens,
of life-giving oxygen bubbles.

Off the port and starboard,
brick-red walls of the slick tunnel
swoosh by, glimmering
a dim yellow light from nodules

of luminescent glass. Ahead,
a mob of spiked, green-blue,
jagged-winged creatures
block the clear passage through,

threatening the clean flow
of goods here with radical
senseless violence, sharp claws
grazing the canal walls.

My fingers flicker in orchestral
dance across my rainbow-
colored buttons and controls,
launching electron torpedoes

that explode the monster radicals,
dispatching them back to their hell.

— Vince Gotera

 

Vince Gotera teaches creative writing and literature at the University of Northern Iowa, where he served as Editor at the North American Review. Recent poems appeared in The American Journal of Poetry’s inaugural issue, Star*Line, Parody Poetry Journal, Dreams & Nightmares, Altered Reality Magazine, and Eunoia Review. Vince blogs at The Man with the Blue Guitar: http://vincegotera.blogpost.com … thanks.

Editor’s Notes: About the image: Veins, Arteries, Blood, Circuit, Blood Circulation by Max Pixel (CC0) combined with Fighter plane vector image (CC0)

Pilot


They said they cleaned out
the ship completely—
scrubbed out the last screams
and left-over guts of those
sacrificed to a faulty
radiation filter. And yet,
sit for an hour or two
paired with an android
who should be as lifeless
as the bridge doors
that always shut so quietly.
Over the whispers and sighs
of forgotten voices you know
are only in your head,
you cannot ignore the android
that is sitting next to you
and who is, you can swear,
somehow breathing.

— Rohinton Daruwala

 

Rohinton Daruwala lives and works in Pune, India. He writes code for a living, and speculative fiction and poetry in his spare time. He tweets as @wordbandar and blogs at https://wordbandar.wordpress.com/. His first collection of poems is The Sand Libraries of Timbuktu (Speaking Tiger, 2016). His work has previously appeared in Strange Horizons, New Myths, Star*Line, Liminality, Through the Gate and Silver Blade.

Editor’s notes: Image is a superpositioning of chiaralily’s Cyborg 110/365 Photo Manipulations Project (CC2.0) a planet fantasy (public domain)

Because I Never Learned to Read the Tarot

            after Rod Jellema’s “Because I Never Learned the Names of Flowers”
 
It is candlelight and velvet where
I smudge away the bitter-mocha mad mojo funk
and motion for you to belly-up to my tableau.
I flex the deck into an artful bridge and begin
to delvesee into your destiny
the whole esoteric assemblage of Truth.
 
Seeker, I scry for you
Cacophony and The Sycophant, crisscross The King of Irony. The Waiting Uber.
 
Below, Astonishment; above, the Queen
of Tablecloths covers you. As others see you, Ambivalence. Happenstance, your hopes and fears.
The Apogee. The Trump.
 
I prophecy Five Fisticuffs, I divine Nine disastrous Tweets,
the Bearer of Mufflers, Bravado, The Coffee Shop,
and the Ace of Bases,
 
oracling: The Scissors, The Knight of Whenevers,
your best course of action. Sustenance, the Dilettante. The Wheel of Dissonance.
 
— Shannon Connor Winward

 

 

Shannon Connor Winward is the author of the Elgin-award winning chapbook, Undoing Winter. Her writing has earned recognition in the Writers of the Future Contest and has appeared in (or is forthcoming from) Fantasy & Science Fiction, Analog, The Pedestal Magazine, Eternal Haunted Summer, Literary Mama, Star*Line, and The Monarch Review, among others. In between writing, parenting, and other madness, Shannon is also an officer for the Science Fiction Poetry Association, a poetry editor for Devilfish Review and founding editor of Riddled with Arrows Literary Journal.

Editor’s Notes:
Thumbnails of major arcana from Tarot de Marseille by Nicolas Conver (ca. 1760). Recolored version.

See also:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yK5uP7Qtgo
http://www.dryadpress.com/EighthDay.htm
http://dianelockward.blogspot.com/2007/10/word-slinging.html

http://www.wheelofpersuasion.com/technique/cognitive-dissonance/
for discussion on cognitive dissonance.

Shade

His years of duty ended,
still the captain stood watch
over his king,
night after night.

Hung in honor on the wall,
the iron-forged blade
the captain once wielded
in the king’s defense.

In the captain’s hands
that blade’s twinned shadow,
both sword and man reduced
to air and captured moonlight.
— Mary Soon Lee

 

 

Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but now lives in Pittsburgh. She has won the Elgin Award and the Rhysling Award for her poetry, and has had over three hundred poems published in markets ranging from the American Scholar to Heroic Fantasy Quarterly and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A dozen of her poems may be read at http://www.thesignofthedragon.com

Editor’s Notes: Image is a collage of the Sword of Goujian, the real king’s sword, a dragon, and the B&W Nagoya Castle by Moonlight by Philip Hunt.

See also the YouTube on the sword: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srbL3Vppirw

Nine

Whispers
of a hundred dead warriors
are heard when a Samurai
draws his katana.
Hear the hiss as it
comes free, listen
to the cries
of agony
from the
perished
souls trapped
in the mirror
of the blade
for eternity—
their torment
their anguish
their misery
give rise to
the Samurai’s
power
his skill in
wielding life
brings death
encapsulating
more victims
full of only
darkness
& despair
devoid of
courage
loyalty
honor
999
99
9

Samurai must forever follow
the voices into nine directions
of hell.

— Josh Brown

 

 

 

Josh Brown is a writer with works appearing in Mithila Review, Star*Line, Beechwood Review, Scifaikuest, SpeckLit, Fantasy Scroll Magazine, and more.

 

 

Editor’s Notes: Simon Graham [narrating]: They say Japan was made by a sword. They say the old gods dipped a coral blade into the ocean, and when they pulled it out four perfect drops fell back into the sea, and those drops became the islands of Japan. I say, Japan was made by a handful of brave men. Warriors, willing to give their lives for what seems to have become a forgotten word, “honor.”

The Last Samurai (2003)

Bushido Code: 8 virtues of a Samurai: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2008/09/14/the-bushido-code-the-eight-virtues-of-the-samurai/

Image: Bushidō written in Chinese characters. On the left, the so-called seven virtues, Bushido Calligraphy

The authors says, “I have studied Japanese martial arts for many years, specifically bujinkan and aikido, and my teachers have always universally taught there is great significance in the number 9.
Nine is often seen as both the beginning and the end, right before ten. There are 9 possible directions of attack, a student typically goes through 9 ranks before black belt, a perfect training space is considered 9 blocks of training mats. The are 9 original mudra for Kuji-in (“ku” is Japanese for “nine”).

Certain Buddhist rituals use 9 monks, Ramadan is in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.

There are nine planets in the solar system (or at least there used to be), nine stars in the big dipper, there are nine months of pregnancy before a child is born…”

Salamander : Fire

On the surface of a far distant star
lives a race of Elementals
who crawl like salamanders
through forests of flame,
who slowly writhe and twist,
who breathe burning gases,
who devour light in waves and particles,
who ride solar flares to the heavens
of their sun where they see
the pitch of night and the bald stars,
whose lives are extinguished in
the vacuum of space, whose bodies
are hurled down by a gravity beyond their
understanding, who are ignited in the flames
below, the roar of their deaths and rebirths
interminable on the surface of a far distant star.

— Bruce Boston

 

 

Bruce Boston is the author of more than fifty books and chapbooks, including the dystopian sf novel The Guardener’s Tale and the psychedelic coming-of-age novel Stained Glass Rain. His poems and stories have appeared in hundreds of publications, most visibly in Asimov’s SF, Analog, Weird Tales, Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fiction, The Nebula Awards Showcase and Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. His poetry has received the Bram Stoker Award, the Asimov’s Readers Award, the Gothic Readers Choice Award, the Balticon Award, and the Rhysling and Grandmaster Awards of the SFPA. His fiction has received a Pushcart Prize, and twice been a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award (novel, short story).  www.bruceboston.com

 

 

Editor’s Notes: DG Canum Venaticorum (DG CVn), a binary consisting of two red dwarf stars shown here in an artist’s rendering, unleashed a series of powerful flares seen by NASA’s Swift. At its peak, the initial flare was brighter in X-rays than the combined light from both stars at all wavelengths under typical conditions. September 30, 2014, image by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/S. Wiessinger. The image is surrealistically enhanced is with superimposed salamanders.

Issue 34 Poetry

For Rent

For Rent

Again, the glass cage is vacant. Only the elderly recall it was once a shoe store displaying Hush Puppies.

Read more

The Sidekick

The Sidekick

I knew just where to stand to let the light pool in my eyes to tame the curl at my brow to hint at secrets on my lips

Read more

Warrior

Warrior

In my sleek brown craft, I maneuver these subterranean rivers of incarnadine liquid, slipping over and around

Read more

Pilot

Pilot

They said they cleaned out the ship completely— scrubbed out the last screams and left-over guts of those sacrificed to a faulty radiation filter.

Read more

Because I Never Learned to Read the Tarot

Because I Never Learned to Read the Tarot

It is candlelight and velvet where I smudge away the bitter-mocha mad mojo funk and motion for you to belly-up to my tableau.

Read more

Shade

Shade

His years of duty ended, still the captain stood watch over his king, night after night.

Read more

Nine

Nine

Whispers of a hundred dead warriors are heard when a Samurai draws his katana.

Read more

Salamander : Fire

Salamander : Fire

On the surface of a far distant star lives a race of Elementals who crawl like salamanders through forests of flame

Read more